Channel Diagnosis: How Healthy is Your Channel Program?

Developing a successful partner program is easier said than done. In fact, recent research finds, while roughly one-third of businesses support indirect sales channels, not all companies excel at providing their channel partners with the right guidance, technology, and information to sell effectively.

If you cannot measure your partner program, it’s nearly impossible to improve it. So, how do you gauge a channel partner program?

Revenue is not the only metric that determines the health of a channel sales program. And channel measurement systems are truly effective if what you’re measuring has an overall impact on improving the customer experience. With this in mind, you should be able to distinctly track the success metrics of partner-originated customers.

Get your channel score and see how your partner program stacks up.

To help gauge the health of your partner program, consider the following components.

Content

Your partner platform should be designed so that partners are able to consume your content. From training to news updates, everything you offer should provide value — so that your partners are empowered to reach specific target audiences.

First off, you should have the ability to measure utilization of content by partners. Next, there should be a correlation between consumption and revenue. If downloads and performance are both high, then chances are, you’re delivering the right materials to the right people. If there aren’t many downloads, but partner performance is still high, then it’s time to improve your content and increase its relevance. And finally, if downloads are high, but performance is low, then it’s time to reevaluate your content strategy entirely.

The modern channel focuses on customers. You should provide partners with content based on your company’s buyer personas and the stages of the buyer’s journey. And you should be able to guide partners through content based on their stage of the partner journey.

Ultimately, getting the right content to your reps results in relationship- and data-driven growth.

Training

As we’ve mentioned before, effective training ensures that everyone involved in your channel partner program knows exactly how they need to position your product. When you implement high-quality training methods, everyone — you, your partners, their clients, the end customer — benefits.

To gauge the effectiveness of your training program, look for a correlation between learning and earning. For starters, your partner journey should be well-defined, starting with recruitment, onboarding, and training. And there should be a link between your training offerings and your partners’ success. If there isn’t, then your training program has little impact on your partners’ ability to sell and support your product.

Incentives

Eighty-one percent of sales reps agree that rewards and incentives strengthen ongoing relationships. And 70 percent of best-in-class channel sales performers indicated that channel partner incentive programs are in place.

What does this illustrate? That compelling incentive programs are overwhelmingly popular — but also that competition has never been higher. In order to track the true health of your partner program, measure the long-term effects of your incentives on behavior.

In addition to training courses, the best sales enablement tools should provide certificates and gamification to track success and incentivize partners. You should be able to effectively measure partner relationships with transparency of progress and action items back to the partner.

If partners perpetuate desired behaviors after your incentive programs end, then your efforts are valid. If not, then it’s time to examine your incentives and how they relate to partners.

I first published this article here on March 2, 2017.